Five Ways to Use Tech to Enliven your Studying

Technology has evolved considerably in the last few years at an almost terrifying pace.  We are truly fortunate with the number tools at our fingertips.  If anything, we might be a little too blessed with what’s available as it becomes difficult to identify a single tool that will suit your needs.  It takes time to learn how to use a new program, and even longer to implement it effectively in the classroom.  That being said, some programs are very student focused, need no input from a teacher, and can be used inside and outside the classroom.

Here’s five ways that students can use technology to help aid their language development.

Recording new vocabulary

There are many ways to record new words, but not many that will test your ability to remember them.  One great (and free) tool for documenting any new content is ‘Quizlet’ ( Quizlet gives you the opportunity to create unlimited study sets and it will generate quizzes based on your content.  Quizlet is a great way to refresh your memory after a spending a few days studying new material.  There is an app for both Android and iOS so there’s no need to bring a heavy laptop to school.

Listening Practice for Short Phrases

Sometimes the most difficult thing about a new phrasal verb is to apply it to a context.  Take ‘look’ for example, the number of prepositions that could follow this verb is quite daunting for a student and remembering the different meanings can be quite a challenge.  A really useful tool for seeing phrasal verbs used in context is ‘Play Phrase Me’ ( which plays short video clips of people using whatever text you enter into the search bar.  The website scans videos that have been uploaded into their database and looks for matches.  

Collaboration with Other Students

Students love to share.  In our experience, regardless of age differences, students love sharing new knowledge that they’ve come across – be it online or offline.  The problem with sharing content is that it’s often difficult finding a platform that everyone can access without the need to sign up for an account, a process which can be quite time consuming.  A quick and free solution is ‘Padlet’ ( which is a shared ‘wall’ where anyone with the address can share content without the need to sign up.

Speaking Practice

Speaking is a very difficult skill to practise alone.  How can you give yourself feedback? You could record your voice and listen to yourself at a later date, but if you’re looking for immediate feedback then grab your smartphone and install Google Keep ( which is a very handy app.  Google Keep is a note taking application designed to allow the user to make quick notes on the go.  However, it also has a very useful voice recording feature which will attempt to transcribe your voice.  Simply speak into your phone and it will turn your words into text – if your pronunciation is not accurate then the software won’t transcribe it properly.

Reading and Listening

TED ( has become a wonderful source of content for internet users around the world.  Language learners can take advantage of a really useful feature that is ignored when videos are played full-screen.  TED videos come with an interactive tapescript which you can follow whilst listening to the TED speaker deliver his/her presentation.  What makes it really useful is that you can select any piece of text, like a button, and the video (which plays in the top left corner of the screen) will jump to the text’s location and play it.


Free English Lessons at ELA-Edinburgh in June

Would you be interested in receiving free English lessons from enthusiastic teachers in top class facilities? Normally it would be too good to be true but at ELA-Edinburgh this June it is our reality!

Those of you who regularly read our blog will know that ELA-Edinburgh is putting on a Trinity CertTESOL course from June 5th-30th. This teacher training course will give our trainees a great qualification as they start their teaching careers.  An important part of the course is teaching practice; our trainees will do at least 6 hours of teaching during their course. This is where you and your friends can benefit!

We are offering free lessons for students who will be taught by our trainee teachers. Every weekday from June 6th -June 29th you could benefit from two hours of free lessons! This is an offer that we can only run during CertTESOL courses so don’t miss out! We only have a certain number of places available so don’t wait too long before applying.

All levels of English are welcome, when you apply we will send you a level test to complete and find the right class for you. All you need to do is pay a £30 deposit, which you will get right back if you attend all the classes! Plus, as a bonus, you will get an hours’ free lesson with a highly experienced teacher at the end of your course!

This is a unique opportunity to get lessons in one of Edinburgh’s premier private language academy and benefit from our fantastic teaching resources. As the saying goes, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!

For more information, or to ask for a placement test, email phone 0131 2266182 or come and see us at 71 George Street!

Building English Language Skills – With a Twist

ELA – Edinburgh Broadens Horizons!

Last week, at ELA, students of the Liceo Scientifico Statale Galileo Galilei of Trieste participated in a 35 hour course . Unlike our standard array of activities however, they also took part in a series of Model UN (MUN) workshops with the Edinburgh University Model UN Society (EdMUN). Model UN seeks to simulate the activities of the actual UN, and teach valuable life skills such as public speaking, debating and negotiation through that medium. It was a new and innovative way of engaging advanced students with the English language and judging by the feedback we have received it was a huge success.

More than any simple classroom activity, MUN has the capacity to draw students into engaging with current affairs as well as improving their English skills. The workshops contained over 15 hours of lectures and training in public speaking, negotiation, conflict resolution with a healthy dollop of international politics. The whole thing was capped by a one day Model UN Conference taking place on Saturday, which allowed the students act as an ambassador for a country in a simulated UN. It was remarkable to see the progression of students over one week from being shy and reluctant to speak; to giving full two minute speeches by Saturday. We very much hope that this is only the first of many new and interesting activities we can bring to our students.

Aside from thanking our wonderful students from Liceo Galilei, we also have to extend our thanks to EdMUN and the Edinburgh University Student’s Association for working with us on this exciting new project. It has been a true pleasure!

Tenth birthday at ELA!!!

Happy birthday to us! Join us as we get misty eyed and take a trip down memory lane. Along the way there will be some fantastic vocabulary for you to learn- just see the bottom of the blog!!



A decade ago this month the Edinburgh Language Academy opened its doors for the very first time. From just 3 classrooms in Leith the school has grown to ten rooms spread over 3 floors in the west end.

For the last decade Olga, our director, has been here to oversee the smooth running of the school. We asked her for some personal highlights. Here are some of her most memorable moments from the first ten years at ELA:

  • 12 year old Simone locking himself in the toilet and refusing to come out because he was so homesick for Italy! Olga remembers “we had to bribe him with chocolate to come out!”
  • Abdullah from Iraq finally getting the 7.0 in IELTS he needed to bring his family to Scotland and start his masters. “It was his third attempt and he had so much riding on the result, it was really very emotional” says Olga.
  • A day trip in 2010 to St. Andrew’s that coincided with the Open golf championship and tens of thousands of golf fans. “We had planned everything for the students but nobody told us about
    One of our early classrooms in Leith

    One of our early classrooms in Leith

    the golf! We were waiting in traffic for 3 hours.” (It’s fair to say that this isn’t one of Olga’s happiest memories….)

  • Attracting our first big of students in November 2006 was a big breakthrough. “I remember thinking: we can do this. It proved to me that we were going to be a success.”
  • The first teacher development course, for a group of Georgian teachers, the school ran. “It was a big challenge for us and it went really well; it was a big step for us and something I want us to do more of us.”


We have been in contact with staff from past years to see what memories they have of the school. Almost of them said: the students! It seems their happiest memories of ELA are connected to the students. David and Sarah, who taught at the school over several summers, remember the chaos of enthusiastic Spanish teenagers during summer school. “You never knew what exactly was going to happen but you knew it was going to be fun.”

Current staff also stress the students are the best thing about the job. “Working with people from all over the world, all in one

building, is incredibly rewarding” says Steve, our director of studies.

From Scottish Bridges to...

From Scottish Bridges to… riding. We've done it all at ELA!!!

…horse riding. We’ve done it all at ELA!!!


Over the last ten years we have taken groups to every tourist attraction in Scotland and taught a huge range of exams to people from (almost) ever country you can name. We’re looking forward to ten years more!


To celebrate our 10th birthday we’re offering some great treats on our website, check out for more information!


Match the underlined expression to the meaning, when you think you know the answers tweet! @E_L_Academy

  1. Misty-eyed (adj)                                      6. Riding (v)
  2. Take a trip down memory lane (v)       7. Coincided (v)
  3. Oversee (v)                                               8. Breakthrough (n)
  4. Bribe (v)                                                    9. Stress (v)
  5. Treat (n)


a) To pay someone to do something in a dishonest way     e) To be in charge

b) Depend                                                                                   f) To remember things from the past

c) Upset and Nostalgic                                                              g) A big and important development

d) Something that isn’t ordinary but is very good                h)  To emphasize

e) To happen by accident


The summer continues at ELA…

As the summer has gone by, we have seen more groups of students from around the world come and go. It’s always such a joy to share our days with such a diverse group of people! We strive to provide our students with a comfortable balance between class time and activities that allow them to really explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh. This means lots of outings to Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, and all the other sites of interest mentioned in our previous blog post.

One of our Italian groups enjoying a beautiful afternoon on Calton Hill

One of our Italian groups enjoying a beautiful afternoon on Calton Hill

Our Hong Kong group enjoyed a picnic at the foot of Arthur's Seat after a hike around Saint Anthony's Chapel and Saint Margaret's Loch

Our Hong Kong group enjoyed a picnic at the foot of Arthur’s Seat after a hike around Saint Anthony’s Chapel and Saint Margaret’s Loch

We also strive to make sure our students feel welcome and at ease when they are here, particularly our younger ones – it can be quite daunting to travel abroad at any age, but it can be especially trying if it is your first time travelling alone.   When our students leave, we often feel quite sad as it is easy to get attached to their lovely smiles and laughter.  We decided to surprise one of our students (whose birthday was a couple of days after he left) with an early birthday cake to share with his classmates, which was great fun!

Celebrating an early birthday at ELA

Celebrating an early birthday at ELA

We have three more big groups from Italy arriving in the next couple of weeks, which will keep us on our toes and then into Autumn mode for our mini-stays.  These offer an insight into Scottish culture and the variety of seasonal activities available.  More of this in my next blog.

What’s more, we have some very exciting plans for the Autumn! We’re also developing specialty courses that focus on English in specific fields, such as Legal English, Academic English, or English for the Financial World. If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge of speciality jargon, look no further! ELA has you covered.

ELA is more than just an English language school though. We also accept students who want to learn a new foreign language. Want to brush up on your Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, or Mandarin? Again, ELA has you covered. If you’re interested in finding out more about what ELA can offer you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re here to help you explore the world of language!

English Summer School at ELA

What a terrific start to our summer… great students and the teaching always soars. Our activities have been second to none, with Rosslyn Chapel (for Da Vinci Code aficionados), the Royal Yacht Britannia, Holyrood Palace, the abundance of Edinburgh museums, Stirling and Edinburgh Castle… the list is endless. Our highlight has been the Harry Potter tour with Grayfriar’s Bobby incorporated, a blissful irony of one story of being of extreme success and happiness to the other of joyous woe. We could not have asked for better students. Hong Kong graciously accredited the school with their Chinese culture, Italy has re-romanticised what it is like to learn and to be young, Saudi Arabia has educated the few (in oil industry especially!) and Turkey has grasped our intellect and taste buds with how to make a proper kebab! Cyprus made a journey to see us, educating us with Ancient Greek Gods and Russia has been just simply amazing, especially with their literature. You have all taught the teachers on a daily basis and are dearly cherished. Not only do we teach you, but you teach us, which is priceless. Long may our cultures blossom together and may you continue to learn English in a great and rewarding way so you are able to communicate and thrive. The Summer has just begun!!! Please, don’t thank us at ELA….we thank you.

Cramond Beach 2 Gerogian House costumes Going on a trip Royal Yacht Britannia 2 Restaurant meal Russian Students at ELA Russians at Edinburgh Castle Scottish Parliament visit Lesson with Ranald

The EU Referendum


A hot topic in the UK today! Also, a good excuse to practice listening comprehension and less common vocabulary items.

These are the cornerstone “four freedoms” of the single market:
• The free movement of people
• The free movement of goods
• The free movement of services
• The free movement of capital (money)
How does each of the four freedoms potentially benefit individuals, consumers and businesses within the EU?

I. Match the words and expressions (1-8) with their definitions (a-e).

1. to ship off 2. privilege 3. to facilitate 4. to benefit 5. turnover
6. employment 7. GDP 8. When it rains, it pours!

a. to be helped by something or to help someone
b. the fact of someone being paid to work for a company or organization
c. Gross Domestic Product: the total value of goods and services produced by a country in a year
d. to send something somewhere
e. to make something possible or easier
f. the amount of business that a company does in a period of time
g. said when one bad thing happens, followed by a lot of other bad things that make a bad situation worse
h. an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or some legal considerations

II. Fill in these sentences with words (1-8)above. You may change the word.

a. I feel that I have greatly _______________________ from her wisdom.
b. The machine was __________________________ to the nearest repair facility.
c. If the ______________________ continues to shrink, the country will be in a recession.
d. The company’s annual _______________________ is somewhere around £70.7 million.
e. The new ramp will ____________________ the entry of wheelchairs.
f. ___________________ levels are unlikely to rise significantly before the end of next year.
g. I have a new supervisor at the office, three new assistants to train, and enough work to keep me busy for months — _____________________________.
h. Senior management enjoy certain ____________________, such as company cars and health insurance.

III. Watch this video and do the following activities:

A. Is the tone of the report positive or negative about Britain’s future if it decided to leave the EU?

B. Watch the video again. Fill in the notes about what leaving the EU, would mean for Britain

Positive impact because:
• Independence from Brussels’ 1. __________________________________
• Funds that would normally go to the EU, could be used for British 2. ___________________
• The UK would not be forced to give money to other 3. _________________ when their economies fail
• Britain could get its own 4. _______________________________

Economic disaster because:
• The UK could lose all the trading privileges that accompany 5 _____________________
• British customers may not be able to shop at 6. _______________________
• Corporations would have to pay higher rates to 7. ___________________ their products
• Turnover, demand and employment would be 8. __________________
• GDP would 9. ___________________
• The savings made by not having to give money to the EU would not 10. __________________ for the GDP losses
• Less trade means the UK would have 11. ___________________ and 12. ___________________________

The Art of Learning

GRIT Poster

Below is a link to an article that refers to some of the things that are at the core of our academic strategy at ELA. Students are regarded as a complex mixture of content knowledge/skills and psychological, emotional, and cultural factors. They are constantly encouraged to get involved and think about their own learning. While the end result is particularly important in the context of an exam preparation class, we also focus on the learning journey, and helping student develop skills to cope with the various challenges that they may come across when leaving and studying in an English speaking country. The academic manager together with the class teacher follow students’ progress at a customized level to quickly identify student priorities and to offer targeted academic support. Short tutorials are used to boost motivation and resilience.

What Does It Mean to Have ‘Grit’ in the Classroom?


The Mysterious Underwater World

This week, a few reading activities for higher level students. The correct answers are at the bottom of the post. Have fun!


1. Fill in the gaps with the correct word from below.

animals, attract, bio-luminescent, blue, burglar, chemicals, cloud, defense, empty, energetically, escape, feet, fighting, horn, hypnotize, impact, life, light, ocean, organs, Prize, substrate, swimming, tentacles, tropical, world

A. Today we have only explored about 3 percent of what’s out there in the (1)______________. Already we’ve found the (2)______________’s highest mountains, the deepest valleys, underwater lakes and waterfalls. And in a place where we thought no (3)______________ at all, we find more life and diversity and density than the (4)______________ rain forest, which tells us that we do not know much about this planet at all. There is still 97 percent, and either that 97 percent is (5)______________ or just full of surprises. There’s fish with glowing, pulsating eyes. It is just fascinating how cephalopods can, with their incredible eyes, sense their surroundings, look at light, look at patterns. When backing into a crevice, they pull their (6)______________ in to make them look just like algae, and disappears right into the background. Sometimes they don’t want to be seen when they move, because predators can see them. They can actually slide across the bottom, using the waves and the shadows so as not to be seen.

B. Usually if people are familiar with bio-luminescence at all, it is through fireflies. And there are a few other land-dwellers that can make light — some insects, earthworms, fungi — but in general, on land, it is really rare. In the ocean, it is the rule rather than the exception. If you go out in the open ocean environment, virtually anywhere in the world, and you drag a net from 3,000 (7)______________ to the surface, most of the animals — in fact, in many places, 80 to 90 percent of the (8)______________ that you would bring up in that net — make light. Some of the colors and patterns are designed to (9)______________.

C. In the 19th century, the French physiologist Raphael Dubois ground a clam up and he managed to get out a couple of chemicals; one, the enzyme, he called luciferase; the (10)______________, he called luciferin after Lucifer. That terminology has stuck, but it does not actually refer to specific (11)______________ because these chemicals come in a lot of different shapes and forms. In fact, most of the people studying bio-luminescence today are focused on the chemistry, because these chemicals have proved so incredibly valuable for developing antibacterial agents, cancer (12)______________ drugs, testing for the presence of life on Mars, detecting pollutants in our waters, etc. In 2008, the Nobel (13)______________ in Chemistry was awarded for work done on a molecule called green fluorescent protein that was isolated from the (14)______________ chemistry of a jellyfish, and it has been equated to the invention of the microscope, in terms of the (15)______________ that it has had on cell biology and genetic engineering. Another thing all these molecules are telling us that, apparently, bio-luminescence has evolved at least 40 times, maybe as many as 50 separate times in evolutionary history, which is a clear indication of how spectacularly important this trait is for survival.

D. For animals that are trying to avoid predators by staying in the darkness, light can still be very useful for the three basic things that animals have to do to survive: and that is find food, (16)______________ a mate and avoid being eaten. Some fish have three headlights on each side of their heads. (17)______________ is the color of most bio-luminescence in the ocean because evolution has selected for the color that travels farthest through seawater in order to optimize communication. So, most animals make blue light, and most animals can only see blue (18)______________. Blue luminescence can also be used to attract prey from a long way off. Some fish have two red light organs. So they use the red bio-luminescence like a sniper’s scope to be able to sneak up on animals that are blind to red light and be able to see them without being seen. A lot of them can release their luciferin or luferase in the water just the way a squid or an octopus will release an ink (19)______________. There are a lot of different animals that can do this: jellyfish, squid, and different crustaceans. Another form of (20)______________ is something called a burglar alarm — same reason you have a burglar alarm on your car: the honking (21)______________ and flashing lights are meant to attract the attention of, hopefully, the police that will come and take the (22)______________ away. When an animal is caught in the clutches of a predator, its only hope for escape may be to attract the attention of something bigger and nastier that will attack their attacker, thereby affording them a chance for (23)______________.

E. The viper-fish is an extraordinary specimen. It has got a lure on the end of a long fishing rod that it arches in front of the toothy jaw that gives the viper-fish its name. The teeth on this fish are so long that if they closed inside the mouth of the fish, it would actually impale its own brain. So instead, it slides in grooves on the outside of the head. It has got a built-in flashlight, jewel-like light (24)______________ on its belly that it uses for a type of camouflage that obliterates its shadow, so when it is (25)______________ around and there is a predator looking up from below, it makes itself disappear. It has got light organs in the mouth, it has got light organs in every single scale, in the fins, in a mucus layer on the back and the belly, all used for different things — some of which we know about, some of which are still a mystery. Another example is the shining tube-shoulder because it actually has a tube on its shoulder that can squirt out light. What is shocking is not just the amount of light that it can produce, but the fact that it is not just luciferin and luciferase. It is actually whole cells with nuclei and membranes. It is (26)______________ very costly for this fish to do this, and we have no idea why it does it — another one of these great mysteries that needs to be solved.

2. Match each heading with the correct paragraph
I. Astonishing examples of underwater creatures
II. How a living creature makes light
III. Bio-luminescence is essential to many animals
IV. More common that you would expect
V. An unexplored part of the world

3. Answer the following questions using no more than 3 words from the text.
a) What do cephalopods use to evade being seen by predators on the bottom of the sea?
b) Where is bio-luminescence not rare?
c) What does most modern research of bio-luminescence concentrate on?
d) What other underwater creatures use luciferin in the same way that bio-luminescent fish do?

To each his own…

This is a short set of intermediate exercises based on a funny music video. It is aimed at practicing vocabulary related to clothes and fashion taste.

1. Watch this video and take 5 minutes to write down as many fashion and clothes related words as you know from the song and video.

2. Watch the video again. In what order do these characters appear?


3. Listen to the lyrics and fill in the gaps in this text.

It might seem (a)__________, wearing stripes with plaid

I instagram every meal I’ve had

All my used liquor (b)__________ are on display

We can go to see a show but I’ll make you pay (because I’m tacky)

Wear my belt with suspenders and (c)_________ with my socks (because I’m tacky)

Got some new glitter Uggs and lovely (d)_________ sequined crocs (because I’m tacky)

Never let you forget some favor I did for you (because I’m tacky)

If you’re okay with that, then, you might just be tacky, too

I meet some chick, ask her this and that

Like ‘Are you pregnant girl, or just really (e)________?’ (what?)

Well, now I’m dropping names almost constantly

That’s what Kanye West keeps telling me, here’s why (because I’m tacky)

Wear my Ed Hardy shirt with fluorescent orange (f)________ (because I’m tacky)

Got my new resume it’s printed in Comic Sans (because I’m tacky)

Think it’s (g)__________ threatening waiters with a bad Yelp review (because I’m tacky)

If you think that’s just fine, then, you’re probably tacky, too

Bring me shame, can’t nothing

Bring me shame, I never know why

Bring me shame, can’t nothing

Bring me shame, I said

Bring me shame, can’t nothing

Bring me shame, it’s pointless to try

Bring me shame, can’t nothing

Bring me shame, I said (because I’m tacky)

43 Bumper Stickers and a YOLO license plate (because I’m tacky)

(h)_________ along my coupon book whenever I’m on a date (because I’m tacky)

Practice my twerking moves in line at the DMV (because I’m tacky)

Took the whole (i)_________ of restaurant mints. Hey, it said they’re free (because I’m tacky)

I get drunk at the bank

And take off my (j)__________, at least (because I’m tacky)

I would live-tweet a funeral, take selfies with the deceased (because I’m tacky)

If I’m bitten by a (k)________, I’m probably not telling you (because I’m tacky)

If you don’t think that’s bad, guess what, then you’re tacky, too


4. Describe what these 4 characters are wearing.